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Monday, March 10, 2008

Explore a Different Culture to Find New Interests

Sometimes it is easy to get stuck in our own culture including our own recipes, exercise and music. There is a whole world out there to explore with SO many different nationalities to learn about. Growing up in NYC had me aware of MANY different cultures just by the diversity of people, languages and the numerous food choices. I love travel and while my travel experiences are by no means extensive I look forward to a lot of it in my future. I have always been fascinated with other cultures and have made an effort to incorporate many of them into my own life. Travel is the best way to explore another culture and Peter from "I Will Change Your Life" and "Pick the Brain" gives EXCELLENT low-cost travel resources in his post"The #1 Way to Shake up Your Life". If you are unable to travel there are still tons of ways to learn about other cultures including the internet right from your home.


I consider myself a true American because I was born here and am a mixture of many races and cultures. My dad has some Panamanian and Scottish in his heritage, spent a lot of time in Jamaica growing up (where we still have relatives) and we just found out there IS some Indian in my distant background from my Great-Aunt Maisie. My mom is all Italian-American. My mom's mom "nanny" spoke Italian although I only ever heard the "bad" words. ;-) I grew up waking every Sunday to the smell of my mom's homemade sauce. It wasn't until I went to college and was sick of eating Ramen noodles and cafeteria food that I called up my mom to get a play by play on how to make some of my Italian favorites; chicken cacciatore, meatballs, bracciole, lasagna....mmmm. After college I was able to give myself credit as a very good Italian cook with TONS of my own recipes but I definitely wanted to learn more.

As mentioned, because of being raised in NY I was exposed to lots of ethnic foods. (Sorry mom and dad for begging for Chinese food and only ordering white rice and wonton soup with the green things taken out for so many years). I grew up enjoying Mexican, Indian, Thai, Japanese and many other types of food but only ever knew how to cook traditional American and Italian meals. When I lived in NJ one of my closest friends, Aneeta was Indian and taught me a couple of recipes. I can now make an awesome curry chicken and samosas. I recommend trying out many different ethnic foods if you have restaurants in your area. If not, there are tons of recipe sites online that offer many different ethnic recipes.
I recommend all recipes.com for their World Cuisine section of recipes -- this site has great pictures and instructions for preparing.


I grew up taking dance lessons including jazz, modern, tap and ballet. I was a club kid in NYC during my teen years and after college so knew how to dance but never studied any other nationality of dance. It wasn't until after college that I took a belly dancing class and loved it. After that I took yoga classes, pilates and became interested in the way other countries exercise and dance. My friend Aneeta also introduced me to Indian dance. I had never heard of Bhangra before. It was love from when she showed me the first video and played me the music. With it's hard drum beat and the energetic dance moves I knew I had to get a video for myself. Below is the BEGINNING of the WARM-UP of the Bhangra workout video my husband (Ray) and I work out to.

You HAVE to smile while dancing to this. The beat is so intense and the moves are so lively. Dancing to Bhangra can lighten my day no matter what happened previously! Through you tube you can find more Bhangra or Irish Step Dancing or any other kind of dance/exercise you would want to learn more about. Through exploring different exercises you also become aware of different music.

I have to credit my father for introducing me to many different cultures of music while I was growing up. He has always been into world music and has had extensive collections. I enjoy MOST types of music. I think it is fascinating to learn what is traditional music for a country. I LOVE bhangra music and also enjoy Spanish, Irish, African, Pygmy and just about any other nationality or genre. World Music is a wonderful place to listen to different world music or watch videos. The video below is for my one of my favorite songs off of the Deep Forest CD which is chants of Pygmies mixed with a new age beat. This CD is still one of my favorites 10 years later and is amazing to relax to.

It opens one's mind to learn about what other cultures like and do and it educates you as well. Go ahead, pick one culture you have always wanted to learn more about and explore over the internet if you are not able to get there in person. Educating yourself of another culture might motivate you to plan for some travel, learn a new language, start an exercise routine you never knew about, eat and make food you have only heard about or to find music that really connects with you. There's nothing to lose and LOTS to gain. Who knows, you might even discover a new passion?

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